De-cluttering the Mind and Wardrobes Before Diwali

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Image Courtesy Pinterest

I don’t remember celebrating Diwali last year; that probably has something to do with having a newborn. This year however I am having this deep need of making few changes, be it home, career, relationship, kids, garden, whatever. I want to do something (don’t exactly know what), just get down and create something beautiful. Last months has been really trying for all of us, with new job, sick kids, and losses that few our friends suffered. There was an air of stifling gloom and negativity surrounding me, something that even the spirit of Durga Puja couldn’t shake off.

However, things are slowly changing. Maybe it’s the nip in the air, lights in the neighborhood, and over-crowded markets. Or maybe it’s the spirit of Diwali that is making all the things right on its own. I don’t know, but that phase made me realize that I could be unhappy, even after having the best partner, adorable kids, good career, friends, home and hearth. That thought has shaken me up a bit. As I am typing the words now, I realized the extent of sadness I felt, but the strange thing is I really don’t know what made me so unhappy. Does that make any sense?

I took up house-cleaning with a vengeance! It sounds silly, but it was so cathartic and after having read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have started looking at house cleaning from a different perspective. I am taking baby-steps where Kondo is concerned; just started off with accessories and baby clothes, and it helped. Honestly speaking, I don’t really have any time to introspect about my state-of-mind juggling kids and career. But sometimes, the simple task of folding a cloth or re-arranging a wardrobe can feel so good.

As I’m not a full-blown creative person; I get creative ideas in bouts. Mostly, I am OK with neat bed and few cushions. But as a child I always use to trail after my mother during Diwali house cleaning; I would re-arrange the sofa, dust the bookshelf, arrange the innumerable case-files Maa possessed or fetch some flowers from the garden to be put on vase. I would stand holding the tool watching my father put on the Diwali lights on our verandah in neat U-shaped layer. I loved all that. I remember once I made a small landscape in the corner of our garden, with a small pond, wooden bark and plants. That fetched me many compliments from neighborhood aunties and uncle. I know they were indulging and encouraging a little girl, but down the years that girl got lost, and somehow I feel, I need to find her and make peace with her, before I lose her forever.

As the years are passing, and I am moving further away from my childhood it’s making me more conscious of how I need to hold on to that part of me. I need to light up some new dreams and fresh hopes, and sweep off this internal clutter of negativity out of the window.

Here’s hoping this Diwali will bring out that much-needed clarity in my life as well as yours.

Happy Diwali!

#Diwali #MarieKondo #decluttering #slowingdown #takingcontrol #findinghappiness

Landour: Of Stunning Views and Steaming Khao Suey

With steep hill climb, sweeping history lessons, stunning scenery, pinewoods, old churches and Ruskin Bond’s house around the corner. Landour is probably the oddest destination one could have picked to travel with kids (10 months and 4). Odd because of the sheer amount of uphill walking one has to do ( with kids that could be a pain). Plus, there’s nothing much to do as said by many friends. However, husband and I wanted to runoff to a quiet and non-touristy place; so on a gorgeous summer afternoon we landed up in Landour, a small cantonment town roughly 4 kilometer away from Mussoorie.

As I stood in the gate of Ivy Cottage, a sense of calm descended on me. How do you describe a feeling you don’t have words for? With clouds touching my nose, I hugged the baby and descended down the stairs to reach where our cottage was.

…and the sight just stole my heart.

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The 180 degree view of the hill, nestled Woodstock school in the distance and a small window with colorful hanging flower pots (I was told that is Ruskin Bond’s balcony) held me in spot. I had seen different shades of the sky, but never before have I witnessed the magic of green, blue, aqua and white mingle in a manner so cohesive that you can’t help but get teleported to the fantasy world of your childhood.

The next three days were spent doing that– staring at the hills for hours, playing peek a boo with the sun and clouds, amidst lots of laughter, diaper change, baby food and conversation.

Plus, we abandoned all the plans of usually site seeing that our driver suggested.

Kempty Falls, Gun Hill, Mall road…NO.

Instead, we did this.

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…spent hours staring at the horizon.

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over many cups of coffees at Cafe Ivy.

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and many heated arguments on world politics.

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There were discussions on experiencing Landour in winters, just so we can curl up in bed with a book under the glowing orange flame from a fireplace.

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Not to mention, how unashamedly we posed for pictures in every possible corner of Rokeby Manor

Tell me why, the food taste so good on holidays? or was there something special about this Khao Suey at Doma’s Inn.


and this Salmon at Rokeby Manor

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What can I tell you about this old-fashioned library at Rokeby? Just pick any book from here, and find your favorite corner.

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and this oh-so-inviting living room which called for cuddles and hot-chocolate.

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Did I mention, how often we huffed and puffed like a dragon in Landour?

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There were times, when the pebbled streets looked far too quiet and spooky near Stubli, The Stray Dog.

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We saw other interesting things..

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Landour stole my heart; we couldn’t help doing the touristy things.

Landour taught me what slowing down means.It taught me, I don’t have to tick items out of my bucket list to be happy, I need to appreciate life for what I’ve now.

#Travellingwithkids #Travelogue #Landour #Mussorie #Ruskinbond #RokebyManor #IVYCottages #CafeIvy #TheStrayDog #Stubli #IvyCottages #CharDukan #Travelling #slowingdown

Pre-mama: Lost in Translation

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Illustration credit: Jo Gay

When I was 18, I made my initial no-marriage-ever-under-any-circumstances declaration. I would tell this to anyone who would care to listen in a self-righteousness of someone who believes she’s the first person in the history to make that statement.

The thought continued through college, however, in a twist of fate I was the first one to marry among my friends. Soon after I made another declaration no-kids-until-I-finish…blah-blah-blah, and somewhere along the years no-kids turned into when-we-have kids, and now we have two under our nook.

Now, if I met my 18-year-old self, I wouldn’t recognize me even if I dance with a pom pom in front of her. At 18, I was full of energy making plans for future. I imagined myself playing Badminton nationals, singing in a concert, or traveling around the world. I would picture myself sitting in a quaint café reading Proust or studying some language. Of course, I’d always have a bank full of money and spare time to indulge in whatever takes my fancy. They were plans after all and planning is comforting. No wonder they never lasted more than a month. Although, I do not relate to my 18-year old self anymore but I hate to think that my kids would never get to know that side of me–the carefree, rebellious side.

I feel I owe my 18-year-old self some recognition, so here you go kid’s, your mama wasn’t a born bore. There was a time when she could sit through an entire movie without snoozing off.

  • My self-righteous tone while scolding you for eating chips is a SHAM. Because while growing up I use to survive on it. There were takeaway packets in the drawers, spoons between books, and cans under the bed. However, I must mention that made mommy FAT, and she had no boyfriends when she should have.Trust me, I still rather eat nachos and watch CARS-2 on repeat with you but I want you to grow up healthy and have fun chasing the sun. So for next several years, it’s going to be like this. Sorry.
  • The other day I brought the house down because you didn’t do your homework. Did I tell you I was a backbencher all my life? I hated being under the supervision of teachers. I bunked class, flunked subjects, and was even debarred twice in college. I know you will call me a hypocrite, but God has made me responsible for teaching you the life lessons, give you a decent education and make you a better human being. Hence, please bear the banshee screaming.
  • “We grew up on books”–haven’t I used that line a million times with you? Books hah! They weren’t always children’s fiction. I started reading Mills and Boons at age 12 and I didn’t stop there— much to the chagrin of your Didun (Grand Mother).They were bad literature that did not peel a potato for me.  I am always picking books for you now, telling you what-to-read and what-not-to, but I know soon you will learn to disguise your parents, and I am dreading that secretly.
  • Family, they were always important, but there was a time when I hated them. They call it the teenage year. I was perpetually angry with the world and not listen to anybody. I am worried about you reaching that phase. Can you do me a favor; do not indulge in stupid daring or take the pressure of education. Just make it to 24, life seems much better after that.

Rest you will survive. The way Mommy did.

 

TAGS: #parenting #parentinghumor
#whilegrowingup #motherhood #lifebeforebabies

This post was also published by Women’s Web and Buzzing Bubs as my column, check it

How Do You Talk About Your Teenage Self To Your Children, The Pre-Mama Phase As I Call It?

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http://www.buzzingbubs.com/articles/5-confessions-of-a-mom-my-carefree-youth

What The IKEA Play Report 2015 Tells Us About Indian Kids

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Upside Down

I grew up in a small town where playtime used to be the highlight of our day. After school, we couldn’t wait to get home and get outside to play—be it racing the bicycles with friends, chasing the fireflies, or playing hide-and-seek—the memories are still pretty vivid in my imagination. Every day our parents had to fetch us back in the evening with a good amount of scolding, as the rule in the house was to come back once the street lights are on.

We grew up being physically active—much more than the current generation. Though, I don’t recall our parents taking any real apart in our play activity—barring those rare occasions when dad taught us backhand shots in badminton or how to fly kites; essentially, we (me and my sister) used to play on our own or with the neighbourhood kids.

Also, the notion of spending quality time with kids did not exist in those days; as adults were too busy running errands and making ends meet. My mom being a working lady in a time when it was not a norm, we even used to go to the library –some 5-8 km away from our home—all alone.

Sadly, the world is not as safe as it used to be.

As we are working parents, the nanny takes our son to the neighbourhood park every day in the evening, however, there are hardly any kids of his age-group there. So oftentimes, he wanders on his own with the nanny trailing right behind him, and after spending some time swinging and sliding, kicking the ball towards random strangers (usually retired-old guys), and making faces at whosoever indulges him, he returns back for his supper.

Sad, isn’t it? I know, but I would say it’s still better than him watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at home with grandparents to fuss over him. In a recently conducted survey by IKEA— the Swedish furnishing company— calls India a “time-poor” country. They interviewed over 30,000 parents and children online across 12 countries, to learn about playing and how people spend their time together around the world.

India tops the charts on three fronts:

  1. Spending Quality Time with Children:

60 per cent of Indian parents feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children — followed by China at 57 per cent. They not only feel stressed when playing with children but the children too feel their parents are always in a rush.

  1. Safety Quotient:

75 per cent parents feel they are over-protective and don’t let their children play outside for fear of strangers or traffic. The US comes second with 62 per cent.

  1. Digital Devices:

38 per cent parents say that playing on the smartphone or I pads qualifies as family time— China comes a close second with 31 per cent.

There is no news of IKEA Play Report 2015 anywhere in the Indian media. I guess, parenting and playtime doesn’t garner that much attention, nor does it do anything for the TRPs. I read about it in Indian Express the other day, apparently the only newspaper to cover it.

In the light of this study, what it means for us parents? We live in a time when houses don’t have a backyard and being outside the house doesn’t necessarily mean playtime. What is the answer to our nature-deprived modern lives? The answer is, we need to get outside more often. We need to pick a sport, play in the park, lie-down in the grass, plant trees, and pack a picnic; instead of teaching kid how to play Subway Surfer on I Pad, we need to show them how to kick a ball or do a cartwheel. Times are changing, if we want our kids to stop being a “couch potato”, we have to give play a chance!

“…Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”— Dr Seuss.

Tags: #playmatters #playtime #parenting #IKEAPlayReport2015

Happy Family Vacation

Friend, partners in crime, rivals…

I have one elder sister.

While growing up we fought like cats and dogs, and said some of the meanest things to each other, and later patched up as if nothing happened. We did some of the silliest things together, and laughed at jokes only we could understand.

But then she moved to the U.S and the Skype conversation and over the phone talks took a beating because of the time zone change, work and babies! Thus her arrival in India was something I was looking forward to with bated breath. The moment I saw her the years vanished like a fart in the wind, and we’re right back to where we’ve left it, that is, like nothing has ever been missing.

We recently visited them in Kolkata, and the overnight conversation against the high rising Rajarhat is something that I cherish the most. We had the best time with our parents joining in. The house was bursting at the seams, but in a good way. Also, watching the kids gel is something that took me by surprise as they all met for the first time. My nieces and nephew don’t speak Bengali or Hindi, and I was a bit skeptical about how Aurko will respond to their accented English. But boy was I wrong, kids speak their own language, they don’t need familiarity. Cousins laughed and giggled, husbands had long conversations, there were lots of slamming doors, chasing after boys, and hair braiding for girls.

As usual we (me n hubby) did a poor job of taking pictures and didn’t pull out the camera much. Partially because it was busy and there was so much catching up to do and so many stories to be recalled.

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Princep Ghat

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#Travel #Travelogue #Familyvacation #Cousins #Sisterdom #Sisterhood